If you follow a vegan diet, achieving a creamy, comforting soup may seem impossible. But it can be done! All you need is a slow cooker, an immersion blender and a few vegan pantry staples and you’ll have a tasty bowl of vegetable soup on your table in no time.
The Best Vegan Cheese for Creamy Soups
Plant-based cheese alternatives
Today, there are a lot of great vegan cheese alternatives right in your local supermarket. Brands, like Daiya, offer plant-based “cheese” slices, shreds and blocks that look, taste and even melt like traditional dairy-based cheese. For this recipe, we used Daiya Cheddar Style Shreds.
Consider this the original vegan cheese substitute. Nutritional yeast adds a surprisingly cheesy taste to vegan recipes. Often found in the baking aisle, it’s a staple in any vegan pantry.
Coconut milk and cashew cream
Other popular “cheese” alternatives that add richness to creamy soups include unsweetened coconut milk and cashew cream. You can find canned unsweetened coconut milk right in the aisles of your grocery store. Cashew cream, on the other hand, is easily made at home by soaking raw cashews in water overnight and then blending until thick and smooth. This vegan vegetable soup recipe uses both of these ingredients to create the perfect base.
When cooked and pureed, vegetables like carrots, potatoes and parsnips can all help add a velvety texture to soups that are low in calories and fat. Simply roast or boil the vegetables until fork-tender, then blend until smooth.
How to Add Flavor to Vegetable Soup
Just because a soup is vegan doesn’t mean it has to lack flavor. Dairy and meat products may be off the table, but herbs and spices will be your best friend. Basil, thyme, rosemary, sage, garlic, cinnamon, ginger and curry powder can all add a tantalizing aroma and flavor to vegan vegetable soups.
How to Make “Cheesy” Vegan Vegetable Soup
- 1 cup raw cashews
- 4 cups butternut squash, cubed
- 2 cups potato, cubed
- 1 cup carrots, chopped
- 1 cup apple, peeled, cored and chopped
- 1 cup yellow onion, diced
- 2 teaspoons garlic, minced
- 4 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
- 1 teaspoon dried sage
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon pepper
- 1/4 cup nutritional yeast
- 1/2 cup vegan cheddar cheese shreds
- 1 can unsweetened coconut milk
- Pepitas (pumpkin seeds)
- Vegan cheddar cheese shreds
- Freeze-dried apple chips
- Your favorite vegan granola
Step 1: Load your slow cooker
In a 6- or 8-qt. slow cooker, add cashews, butternut squash, potato, carrot, apple, onion and garlic. Pour vegetable broth over everything and stir to combine. Add dried sage, thyme, nutmeg, cinnamon, salt and pepper and cover with a lid.
Step 2: Let it cook
Let the vegetables cook in the slow cooker for 4-6 hours on high or 6-8 hours on low. After the time has elapsed, check to ensure the carrots, potatoes and squash are fork-tender. Cashews should also be soft and easily squished when compressed.
Step 3: Puree until smooth
Using an immersion blender like this, puree the soup in the slow cooker until it’s silky smooth.
Editor’s Note: If you do not have an immersion blender, you may also carefully transfer portions of soup to a blender and puree until smooth. Once all the soup is blended, return to the slow cooker.
Lauren Habermehl for Taste of Home
Step 4: Make it “cheesy”
Add nutritional yeast and vegan cheddar shreds to the soup. Next, open a can of unsweetened coconut milk. The coconut milk should be naturally separated. Skim the thicker coconut cream from the top of the can and add to the soup. Discard the remaining coconut water. Using the immersion blender, blend everything until combined.
Lauren Habermehl for Taste of Home
Step 5: Garnish and serve
Serve soup in bowls and garnish with toasted pumpkin seeds, dried apple chips, vegan granola and vegan cheddar cheese shreds, if desired.